Here we are again, with yet another installment of 20 Tips For the Rookie Trainer. If you missed the first two, check them out here https://bnurn53.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/20-tips-for-the-rookie-trainer-part-1/ and here https://bnurn53.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/20-tips-for-the-rookie-trainer-part-ii/. They’re in no specific order so feel free to read the first two installments when you finish this one. Here we go!
11) Spend all your off time in the gym
This should be a no brainer yet I see it all the time. The new trainer comes in thinking his/her shit smells like roses, and that everyone will inevitably smell his rose scented crack and flock to him/her throwing money at them as soon as they walk through the door. On the contrary, when first starting out in a new facility, you are nobody. No one knows who you are or what you have to offer, even if you are a big shot up at school or even happened to have written a few articles for some really awesome publications outlining how awesome you really are. While most gyms will throw you one or two clients in the beginning to get you started it is all you from then on. I cannot believe how many new trainers think they will be handed all of their clients on a regular basis. Remember this is your business, and no one is going to hand it to you. If you want to build your business in a certain facility, the only logical thing to do is spend time there. This means every extra minute of the day should be spent walking the floor, getting to know every single member (REMEMBERING THEIR NAMES), and generally helping people, all while spreading a little of what you have to offer. I can’t tell you how many clients I have gotten just by being in the gym at the right time. Or showing someone a little technique that will keep them from rubbing their shoulder every time they bench. You want to be known as the go to guy for all things training and nutrition. Just keep greeting, smiling and talking to every single person you come in contact with. DO NOT, however, try to sell everybody you see the first time you meet them, that’s just desperate. Plant a seed, act like you don’t absolutely need their business, and when they are ready to train (and everybody will be ready to train at some point), you will be the person they come to. Train yourself at your new facility as well. You want to showcase your product as much as possible. Emulate what you hope to create for your clients. When training in your facility, be sure to remain approachable though. People will inevitably ask you questions about what or why your doing things the way your are so leave a head phone out. Even if they don’t approach you, everyone is watching you so be professional, be committed to your training but don’t be a dick, and be ready to switch to trainer mode on a dime when they eventually approach you saying “you know, I’ve been watching you train…”. In the beginning, you will have to grind for every client you have so be ready to spend a lot of unpaid hours smiling and walking around. All of this will pay off when you develop a client base and start to optimize your time.
12) Set your hours/days
-PLEASE, heed this warning. Do NOT take every crazy client that walks through the doors. If you know you are not a morning person, please say no to the client who wants to train at 5am. While our, schedules as coaches are not typically our own, you must set boundaries. For instance, I do not train before 6:30am or after 9pm. Now, that is a wide range but I know trainers who do much crazier things all for that extra session. I also do not work Sundays, unless I am at a seminar or something Saturday. Now, don’t get me wrong, when first starting out your schedule is going to be insane. You’re going to have to grind, work some crazy hours and drive back and forth to and from the gym all day but as as soon as you can set your hours to something you are comfortable with, do it. I know trainers who are completely fine getting 4 hours of sleep and being groggy or under the weather for a couple of clients all in the name of a better paycheck. I, on the other hand, would like to be “on” for every single client I have during the day. They deserve the best from you and should expect it. So don’t take a client at 9pm on a Saturday when all you want to do is go get drunk with your friends (certainly not my cup of tea but to each his own). Inevitably, a client will beg you to train smack dab in the middle of the time you have allotted to train, or at some ungodly hour no where near where you have any other clients scheduled because all clients seem to think that they are the only person you work with. DON’T BUDGE! If you let clients jump all around just to keep them happy in the beginning, your schedule will soon be unrecognizable from week to week. You think training 30 clients a week is stressful? Try scheduling 30 clients every week.
13) Constantly pursue referrals
I alluded to this a bit in the “simplify” tip but it is worth mentioning again. Your current clients are your best resource to drive new business. Remember that you should be trying to streamline every process within your business, including the creation of new business. First off, yur clients are, in fact, walking billboards for your work. So, if you get results, people will notice and eventually ask you or even them how they got to where they are. This will happen so make sure your client is prepared to spread your message, what ever that may be. I credit Pat Rigsby for that thought process. While at one of his seminars, he asked a bunch of people what their clients would say if someone asked them what you do. For example, Pat Rigsby “helps great fitness professionals develop great businesses”. So simple, so elegant. I’ll be honest, I’m still working on mine. If you have empowered your clients at all, though, they will probably be talking you up to everyone they meet anyway. Here is where you can get clever. You should have a system in place for rewarding your current clients for referring people. Something as simple as a free session or a T-shirt will do. Something as drastic as handing your client a crisp $50bill works quite well too. I believe it was Ryan Ketchum who turned me onto that one. All in all you should ask, every once in a while, if your clients have anyone that they think would benefit from speaking with you. Just make the contact and go from there. At the very worst, you can ask the referral if they have any referrals. Don’t limit your reach to your facility. Everyone your client knows is a lead, and everyone of those leads knows is another lead. I’ll admit that I get caught up in my current clients’ progress from time to time and don’t pursue referrals as much as I should but you shouldn’t miss out! Jon Goodman built his fitness business, and helps others build their fitness business’ on one simple notion; “Do a good job…make sure everybody knows about it”.
14) Call every Lead ASAP
The past one leads me into this one quite nicely. A lead is any contact you make with someone that could potentially result in business or some sort of mutual benefit. This could be an email list from the deli down the street, or a number your manager told you to call. Regardless of where your lead came from, or what you think may or may not come of it, you need to make contact as soon as you receive it. When you first start “cold calling” people, or “warm calling” (I just made that up) leads, it can be daunting. You don’t know what to say or expect them to say. On multiple occasions I have talked myself out of calling someone right away in an attempt to get my mind right for the call all to have something “more important” come up. You say, I will call them tonight but then it’s tomorrow, or the next day. By the time you call them they are no longer interested in working with you or had found somebody else. I learned the hard way to black every excuse out and call the damn number as soon as someone hands it to you.
15) Address nutrition
This should be another no brainer but again, I see way too many overzealous trainers excited to show their clients all of the fun and FUNctional movements they learned from that mind blowing Men’s Health article on Bosu ball training they read over the weekend. Fact is, almost every person that comes to you is looking to shed some fat and feel better on a daily basis. All you have to do in terms of training is get them to move better and more than they did before. Training will be for naught, however, if you do nothing help them address their poor nutrition habits. This does NOT mean that you simply tell your client to stop eating all the “bad” shit they’ve been eating. That would be the same as telling you client they have to go do a sumo deadlift without telling them what the hell it is or how to perform it. I cannot believe the amount of trainers who do little to nothing in terms of nutrition coaching. I’m going to go out on a limb here and piss off every exercise variation expert out there. Your training means jack shit in terms of your clients health. The two hours you spend with your stressed out obese house mom of 5 will do nothing to help them become a healthier and happier individual, so stop acting like your workout is the only thing that matters. What you can do however, is use those two hours a week to teach your clients the tools they need to move better and live a happier and healthier life. How you get them to that end is all on you. That my friends is what coaching is. Unfortunately, most undergrad programs miss the ball completely when it comes to nutrition. You may have one required basic nutrition course and maybe another more specific course as an elective but that’s about it. Even if you understand all there is to know about bioenergetics, you still aren’t taught a thing about getting other people to do what you need them to do while you’re not around. As I have said before your clients are walking billboards for your business and if you neglect to seek out quality information on nutrition and coaching nutrition you might as well not even train them. If you haven’t started to look already, check out John Berardi at Precision Nutrition for the most effective nutrition coaching information out there. There is obviously much more information out there but this is the best place to start. In all honesty, its probably all you’ll ever need for 99% of your clients anyway.
Part IV coming up soon!